During this time of Thanksgiving and Holiday joy, I’m counting my many blessings, from my health and prosperity, to my healthy/loving/prosperous family, to the incredible circle of friends my writing career has brought into my life. And thank you, dearest friend Gail Ingis, for hosting me today – but you don’t really think I’m a turkey, do you? 😉
After achieving an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, she settled in central Massachusetts with her husband of 37 years (yes, happily-ever-after really does exist). Always fascinated by the paranormal, she holds a Certificate in Paranormal Studies from Duke University’s Rhine’s Research Center. She writes contemporary romance with a ghostly twist, a genre she prefers to call New Gothic. An avid reader, she’s a fan of strong but sensitive heroes, spunky, sexy heroines, and a ghost story worth a few goose bumps. She loves creating characters so real that readers miss them when the book says THE END.
Chased by those pesky ghosts, Claire writes for her life.
- Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in New York State, about 60 miles north of NYC. We lived about eight miles out of the small town where I went to school, with no neighbors with children close by. This left me with lots of time on my hands – to read, hike into the woods, and let my imagination run wild. I really feel this had a profound effect on my writing, that “alone time” where I created my own imaginary friends and scenarios. I also developed a deep affection for the mountains and the woods – I’ve always felt there was magic there. I still do.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a hybrid of both, though my debut novel, Phantom Traces, was written during Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2012 – entirely by the seat of my pants. I knew where it would take place (in a haunted library) and I knew what my hero and heroine’s names were and what they looked like. Other than that, nothing, until I sat down in an old library near my home with my laptop on November 1 and began to write. At month’s end I had 54,000 words, a Chapter One and The End. But what was in the middle was a mess! It took me a year and a half to develop Phantom Traces into the novel that Soul Mate eventually published.
Now, I do more prep work. I interview my characters to get to know them, and sketch out a general synopsis of the plot line. But I still don’t outline, so I’m truly a hybrid of plotter and pantser.
- Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Music! Gotta have it or the words just stop flowing. I prefer instrumentals (so I don’t end up plagiarizing the lyrics of a song without realizing it!), and I try to match the tone of the music to the scene I’m writing. Soft, New Age piano solos for love scenes, movie scores for adventurous scenes, and since I write ghost stories, I’m particularly fond of the sound tracks for video games. Assassin’s Creed is wonderful, spooky muse music – and Pandora.com my best friend!
- Ocean or mountains?
I’m definitely a mountain girl, and actually have a kind of fear of the ocean. I almost drowned as a child, dragged out by the undertow at age three. My father rescued me, but I remember still how the salt water burned my nostrils and throat for days afterward. I also get terribly seasick, so although I love going out onto our nice, calm lake on our pontoon boat, ocean cruises are out.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
My wish for that time is to be retired from my daytime career in scientific research so I can write all the time. By then, of course, I’ll be a world famous author, right? 😉 So I’ll have my home in Massachusetts to enjoy the mild seasons and the beauty of autumn, and another home in Florida near my children and grandchildren in Tampa. I’ll have a wonderful fresh-air writing nook in the corner of our screen-enclosed pool. Right next to the Tiki Bar. The well-stocked Tiki Bar.
- What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Three key points: first, always have at least three books active in your reading pile – a craft book, a novel, and an audiobook to listen to while you drive. Don’t waste a single waking minute that you can be learning the craft by reading.
Second – Don’t be afraid of criticism, but don’t ever feel you have to take any of it seriously. Join a critique group, or buddy up with fellow writers you communicate well with. You will get some critiques that sting, and others will just plain make you mad. Pull on your big girl/boy panties, read the comments and really think about them. Sleep on them. Once you get over your initial reaction, you will find a nugget of useful, productive advice in every critique you receive to improve your writing. I promise. As for the rest, print out the pages, ball them up, and use them to kindle a fire under your writing mojo.
And finally – Don’t give up, and have faith in your talent. If you love writing, then your writing is good – or it will be if you work hard enough at it. Never pass up an opportunity to learn from other writers. Don’t let your gift, your creative muse, wither and die. He/she deserves all you’ve got to bring him/her out to meet the world of anxious readers.
- What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I am in the final days of Nanowrimo2015, sailing through another ghostly romance called Hearts Unloched. It’s set on the shores on Loch Sheldrake in the Catskill Mountains of New York, and involves an abandoned hotel, a sexy interior designer, and a gorgeous investor. And, of course, a ghost.
My next project will be to finish Spirits of the Heart, which I have put aside for Nanowrimo. Set in a haunted mental asylum, this story concept is presently up on Something or Other Publishing, LLC’s website for public voting. Please take a moment to check it out here: http://bit.ly/1Katlwe, where you can see the cover, synopsis, and trailer. The more votes I get, the closer I get to making this book a reality! Please vote for Spirits of the Heart.
Phantom Traces – available in ebook, paperback, & audiobook.
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